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CALIFORNIA | BRIEFLY: PHARMACEUTICALS

Deal May Be Near in Vitamin Price Probe

May 20, 1999| Associated Press

Federal prosecutors reportedly are in settlement talks with several major drug companies over allegations that they conspired to fix wholesale vitamin prices worldwide. The Wall Street Journal quoted anonymous sources as saying that a deal could be announced within days and that it could involve huge criminal fines. The yearlong investigation has looked into whether drug and chemical companies met to fix prices and carve up markets for vitamins. The investigation targeted Roche Holding of Switzerland, which controls 40% of the world market, Rhone Poulenc of France and BASF of Germany, along with several smaller American and Japanese companies, according to the report. The companies produce the raw ingredients sold to companies that make vitamins.

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